If Virat Kohli was at the receiving end of Gautam Gambhirs verbal salvo during Kolkata Knight Riders match against Royal Challengers Bangalore at Chinnaswamy Stadium,on Friday it was his team mate Lakshmipathy Balaji that faced his ire. Kings XI Punjab were 131 for six after 19 overs,batting first on a good Eden track.
The reason Balaji had his captain in his ear was the lengths he bowled in the final over,with a combination of half volleys and half trackers going for 18 runs. Punjab ended on a challenging 149 for six and Gambhirs side was under big pressure,having lost three matches in a row coming into the game. In the end,however,the runs conceded at the death didnt make any difference as Manvinder Bisla,Jacques Kallis and Eoin Morgan finished the game with ten balls to spare.
Perhaps the Kolkata captain was still hot under the collar when he came out to bat and despite a couple of fours against Praveen Kumar in the first over,he didnt relax. Azhar Mahmoods delivery might have got him anyway. It was a beauty that swung late and knocked the middle stump out,but with Yusuf Pathan departing the very next delivery,it looked like KKR were 10 for two and under the cosh again.
They needed a cool head in the middle and Jacques Kallis provided that. Opener Manvinder Bisla,dropped off the ball before Gambhirs dismissal,grew in confidence in his company and together they put the pressure back on Punjab and laid the foundation for the chase. They added 66 runs in 10 overs before Kallis was out caught behind off Harmeet Singh. The South African had made 37 off 33 balls to go with two for 14 from four overs earlier.
Bisla went on to score 51 not out in 44 balls and managed to stay till the end. Eoin Morgan too played his part after Kallis got out. The 72-run partnership between him and Bisla in 44 balls took the game away from Punjab.
The final analysis did not look close,but Punjab could have made a match of it had they held on to their chances or had luck gone their way. Apart from the Bisla drop,Piyush Chawla beat Morgan all ends up and the ball hit the stumps but didnt dislodge the bails. Towards the end,Bhargav Bhatt dropped the left-hander at deep mid-wicket. Given Kolkatas vulnerable lower middle-order,it still could have made the difference. When Morgan eventually got out to a 26-ball 42,his team was home.
Punjab were about 15 runs below par on this pitch. Gilchrist didnt drop himself and made a run-a-ball 27. Mandeep Singh,Manan Vohra,David Hussey,Gurkeerat Singh,all made decent contributions but the visitors lost wickets at wrong time. David Millers dismissal in the 15th over,bowled off a Sarabjit Ladda wrong one,and Hussey getting out in the the 18th to Kallis,deprived them off a few extra runs. Punjab,who were 96/2 in 12.4 overs,could muster just 53 runs in the remaining 44 balls,and had it not been for Balajis expensive final over,could have ended with even less.
Jacques of all trades
Kallis was the star of the Kolkata bowling picking up wickets and keeping the runs down and the South African also contributed with a runout,that of Azhar Mahmood in the 19th.
He expectedly won the Man of the Match award.
Sunil Narine too was his usual economic self,going for 22 runs in his four overs,but for a change went wicketless. The West Indian would not have been too disappointed,for the team finally managed to break the win-less streak.
Despite the win,KKR are currently seventh out of nine teams at the half way stage. They are two points off Rajasthan Royals in fourth spot,having played a game more.